Hugos There?

This year Dublin 2019 released the Hugo finalists on a Tuesday, leading to renewed fannish discussion of John Scalzi’s 2014 claim that announcing the finalists during the week would get the Hugo Awards more media attention than announcements made at Easter weekend conventions (as has been done 11 of the last 17 years).

The 2018 nomination announcement was made on Easter weekend, but the 2017 and 2019 announcements were not, and Jo Van Ekeren has amassed a collection of links to media articles from 2017, 2018, and 2019 for comparison.

The lists can be seen here; there are separate spreadsheets tracking coverage of the finalist announcements and the Hugo Award winners. Anyone who wishes to submit a URL which does not appear on the list can use this form to do so. (Links to personal blogs, small SFF fan group blogs, posts by publishers and agents for their authors, sites that appear to be mirrors of other sites, and automated content-scrapers have been omitted.)

Van Ekeren invites people to look at the data and draw their own conclusions. Right now the 2019 Hugo nominations more than twice as many mentions as the 2018 nominations. She did detailed searches for every site on the 2019 list to see whether they had posted a nomination mention in 2018. Well over half of them had not. 

However, the nomination for Archive of Our Own has likely been a wild card factor in attracting attention from at least a few of the sites that decided to cover this year’s nominations.

Last year’s Worldcon committee received some criticism for scheduling its livestreamed announcement on Passover/Easter weekend/a Saturday (see Pixel Scroll 3/27/18 item #15). Chair Kevin Roche apologized for the conflict with Passover but explained the strategy of making simultaneous live presentations at conventions in England, the U.S. and Australia “is a way to further increase fan awareness of and participation in the awards, ultimately raising its profile in the general population as well.”

Inasmuch that Easter 2020 will be on April 12, WAY too late for Hugo Awards activity to start given CoNZealand’s earlier dates (July 29-August 2), there won’t be an Easter announcement next year, either.

16 thoughts on “Hugos There?

  1. The discussion about the best way of announcing the Hugos is right now skewed a bit, I think, maybe because it is led by authors, and for them a big public splash is important. But the Hugos are not the Nebulas, they are the awards of fandom itself: created by fandom, awarded by fandom, and primarily given to fandom. For me it is more important to the long-term health of the Hugos that they remain a fannish award. The public coverage of it is of course nice, but the Hugos could be healthy for 50 years without major public splashes, and likely can remain healthy without having major public splashes in the future.

    Note: this is in no way dismissing the work in collating or keeping track of media coverage in the news. It’s important to know for lots of reasons, including deciding on best way to announce it, and for the Mark Protection Committee in the protection of the Hugo and Worldcon trademarks. And I’m in no way saying that we shouldn’t look to ways to make the Hugos (or Worldcon) better known. But it should not be the primary goal.

  2. @Karl-Johan Noren: that separation only works if you don’t think public awareness of e.g the Hugos has a role to play in the health of fandom as a whole.

    As someone who 1) has found a thriving community of likeminded internet people through engaging with the Hugos and 2) found out I could do that via publicity over attempted puppy takeovers, I feel quite strongly that fandom benefits from publicity about the things that make it special, which brings more people into the fold. How does a community built around common interests maintain numbers if not by encouraging those interests in new people to replace those who drift out?

  3. It may be only anecdotal, but this year, the Hugo nominees, all of them, got mentioned in Entertainment Weekly, which means a lot of people “not in fandom” who read the article saw who and what the nominees were. I can’t help but think that has a salutary effect on making people at least curious about SFF. Should it be the end all and be all? No, of course not. But I think the tradition of announcing it at a few local cons on a Saturday is a tradition that should be retired. If the Hugos are the premier SF award in the English speaking world, it should be publicized in a way befitting that title.

  4. The idea of a simultaneous announcement at conventions is archaic in an age when we carry massively powerful computers in our pockets that can receive information posted from anywhere on the planet by anybody in real time. It’s like thinking we still need animatronic scoreboards on big buildings during the World Series when people can watch every moment on their phones.

  5. Announcement at a convention is a social thing. Information on the phone is not. It is not only about how people can get information. If it was about that, we wouldn’t need a Hugo ceremony.

  6. If there was a Worldcon mobile app that was passed from one con to the next, we could encourage people to install it by announcing the Hugo nominees there first.

  7. Announcement at a convention is a social thing. Information on the phone is not.

    That’s a strange thing to say when so much information is being received through social media. I’ve never been to a con where the Hugo nominees were announced, yet I’ve engaged in social activity about the awards with hundreds of people on Twitter and File 770 as the news was first reported each year.

    Even the award ceremony can be social when you’re not there. I thought N.K. Jemisin’s 2018 acceptance speech was so fantastic I posted it on YouTube in the middle of the night after the awards. It got tens of thousands of views and was included in numerous first-day media stories about the winners. People were talking about the video all over the place.

  8. Yes, you can have social activity *around* announcements. Usually created by small groups of individuals. But there is something special to be in a room where they are announcing it. Which is why there is a Hugo Ceremony and not only announcement on an app and then let people find their own social enviroment.

    An app does not make a live presentation obsolete. Just as an audiobook does not make author readings obsolete.

  9. But there is something special to be in a room where they are announcing it.

    I’m sure it’s nice, but how many people attend the nomination announcement at these conventions? We’re timing the news for them when we could be doing it on a weekday with thousands of people involved in the moment and the media at work where they’re more likely to pay attention.

    The Hugo ceremony is different than the nomination announcement. Many of the nominees are in attendance and it is part of the prestige we associate with the awards. We can now watch it live (to the great credit of recent Worldcons).

    I can understand the logic of “this is a convention’s award and we are optimized for the benefit of conventions.” But I didn’t come into the WSFS because of convention attendance. I’m part of the larger crowd of people who participate whether they’re going to any of that year’s affiliated cons. So I see this in that light.

  10. The difference between an award ceremony and a public nomination announcement is that the award ceremony is set up to encourage and celebrate attendance among finalists, whereas a nomination announcement can’t be. That’s who the ceremony is for, and I don’t think anyone is trying to take that away from them.

  11. I’m not sure there is *more* engagement amongst fandom when we announce over Easter. We crashed Dublin’s web site this year with everyone trying to get to the Finalist list. Tons of people were watching on line and following on Twitter.

  12. I mostly don’t nominate any more—nor do I read new SF (with the exception of the 1632 series), partly because I have way more Stuff than I need, which includes books. I have hundreds I’ve never gotten around to reading.

    Mostly don’t nominate in the fan categories, either. I’ve become a Fake Fan—a term Mike and others know—more into SF for the old friends than for the new SF and authors.

    I’ve also become aware that the vast majority of convention Guests of Honor are people I’ve never heard of, *sigh*

  13. The possible AO3 effect is quite interesting. My guess would be that some sites that lead with it will do so because it’s a good hook for an article they’d have run anyway, but it may have got genuinely new coverage from others.
    e.g. from the existing list I see The Mary Sue and Hypable both led with AO3 in their headline. The Mary Sue have covered the Hugos before, albeit spottily, whereas Hypable hadn’t since 2012.
    Clearly the answer is to announce on a non-Easter day and have a good hook in the finalists.

  14. @Arifel: Does the Hugos help fandom reach out? Quite possibly, and it’s a good thing if it does so.

    But is it the only thing? Or even the primary thing? And would trying to make the Hugos more “mainstream” mean that they would lose their appeals to us as fen?

    I’m not claiming that I have any answers here. I do think it’s a topic worth researching, as Jo Van Ekeren has started to do, but right now leave it up to the individual Worldcons to make their own decisions, based on exact timings, than trying to decide anything right now based on the needs of a specific group.

  15. Mark: The possible AO3 effect is quite interesting. My guess would be that some sites that lead with it will do so because it’s a good hook for an article they’d have run anyway, but it may have got genuinely new coverage from others.

    The Hypable, Motherboard, and Geekiary pieces look like they are specifically because of the AO3 nomination; others look like they’ve used it for the lead but would likely have run a post anyway.

    There are several Doctor Who sites which likely would not run the announcement if the show wasn’t nominated, but since it’s nominated every year, that kind of cancels out that effect.

  16. As an Eastercon-goer I much prefer the years where the Hugos are announced before the con, as we then get to have interesting discussion about the merits of the works. I find that much more exciting and community-strengthening than 45 minutes of announcement bling.

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